Digital Soundtracks

Old Soundtracks


Information: Ogg and MP3 formats
« on: July 15, 2007, 11:29:54 PM »
Hey folks,

Often is the question asked of me, "What's Ogg and MP3?", so I thought I'd post a brief explanation of what they are and why SMC supports and uses them.

This thread is a revision of the older one, because SMC now uses both Ogg and MP3 file formats, not just Ogg. Also, I've shortened it quite a bit to make it easier to read!

If you have ANY questions, please post here or email me! I'll address it ASAP.
Also, if there are any errors or confusing statements, I'd like to know also.

(Please note: for good discussion of the latest MP3 and Ogg Vorbis technologies, visit the Hydrogenaudio forums. It's where I get my information!)

Ogg Vorbis and MP3 are audio formats, much like WAV is. However, unlike WAV, they're compressed (lossy) formats.

What does this mean?
1. Smaller filesizes (for a 2 minute file, say 20 MB becomes 3-3.5 MB)
2. A (usually imperceptible) reduction in quality

What does "Variable Bit Rate" mean? (Quality of MP3's/Ogg's)
Well, most of you will already be familiar with MP3's, when played in an audio program like WinAmp.
You may have noticed the bitrate, or kilobytes per second (kbps), as a number, where 128 kbps is the old standard or 'default' quality.
Variable Bit Rate (VBR) MP3's are the best quality type of MP3.
It means the bitrate of the track varies as the song plays, so that maximum quality and lowest filesize could be obtained as the track went on, rather than a constant bitrate (i.e. one quality, like 128 kbps, which could be too low at some points and too high at others, meaning quality was lost or too much filesize space was wasted).

Same principle applies to Ogg. But since it can go lower than MP3 (with MP3, the lowest it can encode at is 32 kbps), say, to 5 or 6, silence can be (effectively) encoded at lower bitrates and so smaller filesizes. Also, this helps with higher bitrates as well- but we won't go into that now. :)

What programs does SMC use for encoding of its' files?
MP3: SMC uses LAME 3.98b4 with the program LameDropXPd for MP3 encoding, which can be found here:

Ogg: SMC uses the Lancer build (speed optimised build) of the latest aoTuv version of OggdropXPd (ignore that that sentence sounds crazy!), which can be found here:
(Get the latest version, and make sure it suits your specs- i.e. don't get the Pentium 4 version if you have a Pentium 3.)

Both programs (LameDrop and OggDrop) require you to set options, and then ALL you have to do is literally drag and drop WAV files on them to make MP3's or Ogg's (you can also use them to make WAV files out of MP3's and Ogg's!).

What quality does SMC use for encoding of its' files?
SMC encodes its' Ogg Vorbis files at a VBR quality of 7 (around 210 kbps on average), and its' MP3 files at a VBR setting of 220 kbps (on average).

SMC CD's and Ogg/MP3
Basically, when you're visiting a SMC Soundtrack CD page and you see the text:
All digital tracks are encoded at 44.1 kHz in stereo (CD quality) in two formats for your convenience:
1. Every track links to a MP3 file (formerly, this would link to Ogg's) encoded with LAME at an average 220 kbps, using the VBR method (if you don't care, it's high-quality).
2. The RAR at the top of the page is the complete score in Ogg Vorbis format, at quality 7 (an average of 210 kbps), using the VBR method (also high-quality)
(taken from the SMC Sierra Music Volume One Soundtrack CD page), it means:
- that the soundtrack is encoded in MP3 and Ogg file formats
- that the soundtrack is recorded in stereo, at 44.1 kHz (default CD audio quality)
- that the quality of the Ogg's/MP3's is good (averages of 220 and 210 kbps is very high)

Any further clarification, pleast post here.

Not sure about playing Ogg Vorbis? WinAmp plays it fine with the latest version, or an older version with an Ogg plugin.

Links to Hydrogenaudio and RareWares are included above.

Nero Burning Rom users can also download the Ogg Vorbis codec to burn CD's of their Ogg files, with no manual conversion required (Nero does it)! (I have the plugin if anyone needs it and can't find it via Google or other means.)

Regards, and hope this has made sense to all of you Sierra Music fans out there. If not contact me or post here!
- Alistair

SMC is owned by Alistair Gillett as of August 2002, and as of December 2006, Alistair Gillett and Stephane Mainil. Any reproduction of music files/other content is fine, subject to contacting Alistair first (please, we do this for free, don't leech or steal our content).

All Sierra-related material (games, characters and any other such items) is owned (sadly) by Activision. The music we record, well who knows- can't afford to try the court case however. Let's just say we own the website and possibly the music.

Once more, please do not reproduce any SMC content without asking permission from the site owner, Alistair. We work unpaid hours to bring you the music and the website, so don't betray that generosity by stealing our work!